We spend a lot of time in our homes. Whether you’re retired, work from home, or have recently been forced to remain home due to the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020, spending copious amounts of time at home can result in sore, achy bodies and adversely affect mental health. If you’re spending markedly more time in your home environment, especially during cold and flu season or the current pandemic, take “steps” to ensure you’re as healthy as you can be.
Obviously we believe exercise is important for improved mobility, cardiovascular health, and strength. However, exercise is also critical to mental health. Get those endorphins pumping by streaming exercise videos or fire up the old VHS and DVD vids. Even better, get outside for a walk, run, bike ride, or even gardening. As always, watch your body mechanics so your movements are helpful instead of harmful if you have existing or reoccuring conditions and contact your physical therapist if you have questions.
The air quality inside your home may be compromised by fumes, odors, and grease products while cooking, pet dander, dust, and inefficient exhaust fans. Regularly clean the filters in your home. This includes grease filters above the range, furnace filters, and vacuum filters, along with those in your air purifier. Also check that your bathroom and other exhaust fans are doing their job by holding a piece of tissue near it. If working properly, the tissue should get sucked in towards the vent.
Food is the fuel for our bodies and lousy fuel leads to lousy performance. Stressful times frequently find us craving comfort food, but resist the urge to reach for sweets and fats. Instead, load up on fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy proteins that will give you an immunity boost should cold and flu germs find their way into your home. If you grab take out, be sure to wash your hands immediately before eating and again when you are done and have disposed of your trash. Better yet, transfer take out onto your own plates, dispose of take out containers and bags, and wash your hands before eating. Germs linger on any number of surfaces so if it didn’t come from your house, assume that any items can be harboring dangerous germs.
Most medications require consistent monitoring. Always make sure you are taking them as prescribed and your prescriptions are refilled as needed. Allow extra time when pharmacies are scrambling during busy seasons by calling in your prescriptions a few days earlier than you normally do. Also check with your insurance company to see if there is a mail order option and ask if you can get a longer supply than normal since most companies are currently covering a 90-day supply instead of just 30.
Be sure to keep up the conversation with your health professionals. They are taking extra precautions as needed and you should too. Skip non-essential appointments when the risk is high, but be sure to reach out if you have concerns. Many doctors are offering telemedicine as a way to have a virtual face-to-face conversation and evaluate your needs. If you are dealing with tooth pain, severe health symptoms, or physical pain, don’t delay reaching out to your health professional for advice. If you are having flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor first for an over the phone evaluation and allow them to provide instructions for what to do next. They likely will redirect you to another facility that is better suited to treat you. Encore is offering E-Visits and limited in office visit on an as needed basis during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Staying healthy when you can’t see the germs that make you sick is more challenging every time you leave the house. Wear a mask if recommended and use disposable gloves or put your hand in a plastic bag for tasks like pumping gas, loading groceries, or using the ATM. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer that is over 70% alcohol often. Also allow groceries and other outside items to sit for three days or wipe them down with germ-killing cleaners before putting them away. This reduces your risk of picking up germs from a milk jug or pickle jar. If you use reusable shopping bags, be sure to toss them into the wash after your shopping trip.
Perhaps the most important and most overlooked aspect of being at home is feeling isolated, depressed, anxious, or scared. During uncertain times, it’s common to ride a wave of emotions so, when you do, reach out to others. It’s helpful to know you’re not alone and that most people are struggling with the same feelings. Help diffuse the feelings of distance by using phone and computer apps to keep in touch with those you can’t see in person. Download WhatsApp, Snapchat, Marco Polo, or Zoom. Make video calls instead of voice-only calls. Reach out to your therapist if you feel overwhelmed or hopeless and use these resources provided by the CDC when needed:
- Call 911
- Visit the Disaster Distress Helpline external icon or call 1-800-985-5990 and TTY 1-800-846-8517 Or text TalkWithUs to 66746
- Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline external icon or call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224
Whether it’s your standard annual cold and flu season, or you’re under quarantine, taking care of your physical and mental health is important for you and your family, but will also benefit you when you return to normal levels of activity. Be well!